Today I have a guest post from Leslye. Leslye Swindell is a freelance writer with a background in Communications. A lover of words and “jane of all trades”, she has a passion for finance and encouraging others to take control of their finances.
Can you believe that this year is half over? As we are already six months into the year, what better time to make sure your finances are in check than with a mid-year financial checkup?
July isn’t just for fireworks and beaches. It’s a great time to ensure you’re on track with your financial goals. Here are 6 things you can do to conduct a mid-year financial checkup.
1. Check Your Credit
If you’re currently paying down debt, it’s important to know how much you owe.
Pulling your credit report from all three credit bureaus will provide a clear picture of any debts. It can also include errors, so pulling it at mid-year allows you time to resolve issues before the new year. If you haven’t pulled it this year, then you are still entitled to a free credit report.
Each year, you are entitled to free credit report from all credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s important to review all three, as they may include different information. If you find that you have errors, you can submit a dispute through the bureau’s website and they will provide updates as it is being reviewed.
You can monitor your credit score regularly for free using CreditSesame.
Once you’ve confirmed what you owe, you can make a realistic plan to tackle it.
2. Review Your Debt Management Plan
Are you actively decreasing your debt or increasing it? If you know what you owe, what is your plan to pay it off? Are you making monthly payments? Have you made payment arrangements? A debt management plan will help you organize and effectively make a dent in your debts.
Are you aware that you can negotiate interest rates, payment due dates, and even your debt total? Incorporating ways to restructure your debts can help you lower the amount faster and save you money over time. Are you increasing your debt? That is the enemy of progress. If your goal is to be debt free, accruing new debt is not the answer.
3. Rework Your Budget (and Make Sure You’re Sticking to It)
A budget isn’t just a plan to spend money. It is a state of affairs. An effective budget includes the amount you’re bringing in each month, the amount your bills are each month, the amount you have for other fixed expenses (i.e. transportation, food), the amount you need for miscellaneous/emergencies, and the amount you save.
Summer is often a time for vacation and fun in the sun. It is also an easy time of year to get off track with spending. If you’re traveling, try to pack your own food and snacks when possible to save money.
Vendors often mark up the price of goods during peak vacation season. If you’re taking a road trip, fill up your tank in toward the beginning or middle of the week. Gas prices tend to rise on the weekend. Whatever you can do to stay on track, do it. If you don’t have a budget, now would be a great time to start.
4. Make Sure You’re Financially Prepared for the Holidays
Whether it is Christmas shopping or a winter vacation, the end of the year can be expensive. Have you started planning?
Shopping outside of the season can save you a lot of money. If clothes are the gift you had in mind, winter items are on sale now.
If you are interested in traveling during the holidays, now would be a good time to start purchasing tickets. Rates will greatly increase moving into the holiday season. Preparing now can save you money and the headache of starting the new year off with extra debt.
Editor’s Note: One thing I like to do is shop year-round using Ebates to earn cash back on everyday purchases. I then save the money I earn with Ebates to help cover holiday expenses. Check out my Ebates review here to learn more about how it works.
5. Check-In On Your Side Hustle and Income Goals
Are you a side hustler or freelancer? Have you picked up a part-time job? Are you investing? Whether you’re paying down debt or just want financial security, having multiple revenue streams is always a plus.
Now would be a great time to evaluate how to add one into your life. There are fun summer side jobs that can add some cash to your stash. Are you an expert at getting in shape? You could host your own exercise boot camps in the park.
Are you well versed in events? Summer is filled with weddings and celebrations. You can reach out to a local catering company to enlist your services. Get creative and find something that fits into your life.
If you’re already side hustling, be sure to track your income over the past few months and see if you’re on track or need to scale up.
6. Get on Top of Taxes For Side Hustles
If you side hustle as a contractor or are 1099 employee, you may be required to pay quarterly taxes. There are four of these payments due throughout the year. The most recent due date was June 15, with the next date on September 15.
Make sure that you’re setting enough money aside to cover your tax burden. Also, make sure that you’re making those quarterly payments. The IRS may charge a tax penalty for not making those payments on time.
How did your finances stack up? If you’re not on track, the good news is you can be. Make the necessary adjustments and you’ll be steps closer reaching your financial goals.
Have you don’t your mid-year financial checkup yet? What’s left on your to-do list?
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